By Shakir Husain
NEW DELHI, July 8 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Malindo Air will start flying from Kuala Lumpur to Varanasi on July 18 as it looks to capitalise on pilgrimage traffic to the Hindu holy city in northern India.
There will be three flights per week on the route with a total capacity of 486 seats.
With the launch of its new service, Malindo Air will be operating 63 weekly flights connecting 10 Indian cities to Malaysia.
The direct flight to a major city in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, would help encourage more people from the region to visit Malaysia, said Datuk Hidayat Abdul Hamid, the High Commissioner of Malaysia to India.
“We have 224 flights weekly between India and Kuala Lumpur and Indian travellers can travel from 14 cities to Malaysia. We are promoting tourism beyond Kuala Lumpur and focusing on destinations like Ipoh, Johor, Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak and beautiful unexplored beaches to attract one million Indian tourists by 2020,” he said.
Sulaiman Suip, director of Tourism Malaysia in New Delhi, said tourist arrivals from India in the first three months of this year grew 18.6 per cent due to easy air links and a hassle-free online visa process.
Malindo Air, which began flying to India in December 2013, sees potential to attract both inbound and outbound travellers.
“However, Varanasi may have the added advantage in terms of demand as it is also primarily a sacred pilgrimage destination for Hindus around the world,” the airline’s chief executive officer, Chandran Rama Muthy said.
Many travellers from India use Malindo’s wide network to travel to destinations within the region.